Spain's southern city of Seville basks in romantic myths and legends, evoking the scent of jasmine and orange blossom. But there is an ascetic core to its sybaritic spirit. For all their fame as passionate performers, the poet Unamuno called Sevillanos "finos y frios"--refined and cool. Once Europe's most cosmopolitan metropolis, bridging cultures of East and West and hub of a sea-borne empire, Seville was defined by Spain's great seventeenth-century playwright Lope de Vega as "port and gateway to the Indies". The city retains both the swagger of its seafaring heyday, and the sensual flavour of Moorish al-Andalus. Seville produced Spain's lowest ruffians, grandest grandees and a seductive gypsy culture that colours our wider perception of Spain. Elizabeth Nash explores the palaces, the mosques, the patios, fountains and wrought-iron balconies of Seville, Cordoba and Granada, cities celebrated for centuries by Europe's finest painters, poets, satirists and travel writers for their voluptuous beauty and vibrant cultural mix. CITIES OF SEDUCTION AND DISPLAY: Carmen and Don Juan; holy processions, fiestas and the romance of gypsy music; matadors, cigarreras and flamenco.
CITIES OF POETS AND PERFORMERS: Passion and politics from Cervantes to Lorca; the romantic yearnings of Washington Irving and Gerald Brenan; Velazquez, Murillo and Valdes Leal: the baroque and the realist. CITIES OF EMPIRE AND CONQUEST: Seville's conquest of the Americas; the Moorish splendour of Cordoba; Granada and the legacy of Civil War.